The Proof is in the Compost

“How are we going to get in there?”  The Skipper asks, shaking his head.  The raspberries dangle off the tall canes, waving in the breeze at about 7 feet up.  Unless we stick the ladder right in the middle of the patch, we’re going to have to let some go.  Luckily, the ones we can reach easily are the size of my thumb–the biggest I’ve ever seen.

You may remember that back in April/May, I was fussing over my raspberries, kiwis, and some of the roses like a new mother.  All of them had yellowing leaves that didn’t look healthy.  I did some research on the yellowing pattern, and it most fit iron deficiency.  Cures for iron deficiency were confusing, though.  Many sources said that iron was naturally abundant in all soils, and that the problem was that sometimes the plants couldn’t access it easily.  This was particularly true if there wasn’t enough organic matter in the soil.

I was a little surprised at the thought that there wasn’t enough organic matter in my soil as I had added a good layer of compost to the raspberry bed in February.  But I hadn’t added any to the roses or the kiwis, so that was definitely a possibility.  So I added another good layer of compost to all of them and waited.  Late May, nothing had really changed.  In the raspberry bed there was lots of strong, healthy growth (and the volunteer columbines there positively glowed!), but there were still freshly yellowed leaves.  I was still worried.  I bought some iron chelate from the garden shop, and waited for a windless, rainless day.  One never came.

In early June, the Skipper and I went on the local garden tour.  The gardens during the tour are staffed with Master Gardeners, so that you can ask questions.  I asked about my poor yellowing leaves.  The gardeners said confidently, “Oh, that.  Don’t worry, it’s just the cold weather we’ve had.  Once it warms up, all the plants will be fine.  It might be iron deficiency, but if it is, it’s because the cold is keeping the plants from absorbing what they need.”

I was so relieved.  And, the pros were right.  The first wave of our raspberries was tasty, but the berries were small and crumbly, and the canes looked the worse for wear.  But those twice composted summer-bearing canes?  Yowza.  If I ever wondered whether compost was as beneficial as everyone says, I have no doubts now!  I just can’t wait to produce enough so that all of our food looks as good as this!

7+ feet tall raspberry canes
The tips are loaded with fruit--maybe we'll get that ladder out after all
Ready to Eat!

4 thoughts on “The Proof is in the Compost

  1. So, does everything grow to be massive in the Cowichan Valley, or was it just your mega composting that did it? Holy Smokes!

  2. Thanks ladies! Wish I could share them, but I’m pretty sure the Skipper has them all earmarked for jam… 🙂 Deb, I hope there’s something in the soil and water out here that will make this the norm, but a good look around the garden suggests that human actions (my novice ones, unfortunately!) still make a difference for better or worse. It’s a good year for berries, but not so much for apples, beans, and cucumbers. Here’s hoping more magic compost next year will have this kind of impact!

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